Former New Jersey education commissioner Bret Schundler says Gov. Chris Christie “defamed” him in criticizing his role in the state’s Race to the Top application.
Christie fired Schundler last week after he said the former schools chief misled him about the state’s application in the federal competition. That application included a critical error that cost the state five points—and potentially, a $400 million award. New Jersey’s score was just three points behind 10th-place Ohio, the last of 10 states to qualify for Race to the Top awards.
The governor originally said that Schundler had provided federal reviewers with the correct information during an in-person interview. When that turned out not to be the case, the governor fired Schundler, saying he had been misled. But the ex-schools chief says that he gave the governor the correct account of events all along.
“I will not accept being defamed by the governor for something he knows I did not do,” Schundler wrote in a letter provided to several reporters. “The governor called me a liar this week. That was the last straw.”
Christie has since named Rochelle Hendricks, an assistant commissioner of education, as acting chief and intends to go ahead with a national search for permanent replacement.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.